Social Security Disability Definitions
Social Security Disability and SSI Overview
The Requirements for Disability
Social Security Disability and SSI Applications
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial
Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Social Security Disability and SSI Appeals
Social Security Mental Disability Benefits
Disability Benefits offered through Social Security
Benefits through SSI disability
Disability Benefits for Children
Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify
Social Security Disability and Working
Winning your Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability Back Pay Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices
Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney
Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions
What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?
Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Ask a question, get an answer
If I am on Social Security Disability, can I lose my disability benefits at some point?
There is no guarantee that you will always be entitled to Social Security disability benefits or SSI benefits. There are a couple of things that could cause your disability benefits to be suspended or even terminated. The two most common causes of Social Security disability termination are work activity and medical improvement. Social Security uses periodic continuing disability reviews (CDR) to evaluate both medical improvement and work activity.
Both Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income disability (SSI) are based upon the premise that your residual functional capacity (what you are able to do with the limitations of your disabling condition) is so restrictive that it prevents you from performing any kind of substantial work activity.
Naturally, Social Security must have a process to determine if you have had any medical improvement and if you remain unable to perform substantial gainful activity. This process is known as the continuing disability review or CDR.
Work activity and being taken off benefits
If you wish to get back to work, Social Security provides avenues that allow you to attempt work activity without losing your disability eligibility. For instance, you have nine trial work months in which Social Security allows you to earn any amount of money without it affecting your disability benefit eligibility.
The trick to the nine month trial work period is that the months do not have to be consecutive and can occur any time in a five year period. If you are performing substantial work activity in the tenth month, your disability benefits will be suspended and you begin an extended period of eligibility, or EPE.
The EPE begins with your tenth month of SGA-level earnings (see the SGA substantial gainful activity income limit) and lasts for a period of thirty-six months. During the thirty-six month period, you can start your disability benefits any time that you stop working or are no longer performing work activity at the SGA earnings level without any question.
However, if you work and have earnings up to the SGA income limit after the thirty-six month of the EPE, your disability benefits will be terminated. If you are able to perform substantial gainful work activity in spite of your disabling condition, why should you be receiving disability benefits?
Another cause of disability benefit termination is medical improvement and that is self-explanatory. Social Security gathers the medical records from medical sources you provide for your continuing disability review, if your medical records indicate that your disabling condition has improved to the point that you are no longer disabled under Social Security rules and guidelines, your disability benefits might be terminated due to medical improvement.
While there is a chance that your disability benefits may be terminated during your continuing disability review, it is unlikely. The vast majority of disability beneficiaries receive Social Security disability benefits until they convert to full retirement benefit, go back to work, or their death.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria